Paul George won't play a minute at power forward for the Pacers this season.
The Pacers star will hopefully play 35-40 minutes per game without any issues following his recovery from a broken leg. He will be on the court with four other teammates. Three of those teammates may often be smaller than PG, but that doesn't mean he's playing power forward.
PG will just be playing.
Seems like everyone is hung up on the term "power forward" (most notably, PG himself) when in fact in a small-ball, "positionless' lineup relying on athleticism and speed, Paul George will simply be playing.
Since the term "power forward" conjures up images of Maurice Lucas, Dale Davis or for you young folk, David West, I like to refer to PG's proposed role as one of a power fauxward.
The idea isn't to put PG in the post and have him banging around with bigger bodies. As Frank Vogel described on the Dan Dakich show today, the Pacers want to take a page from the Miami Heat, spread the floor and create room for their playmakers to get to the rim. Here are some quotes on the topic from the Pacers coach:
Vogel on running more: We're not going to turn into a defensive-less, try to score 140 points a game type of team. We want to win. That's the plan here. The goal isn't to go out and just become a running team. The goal is to go out and win games and to do that we think we can be more proficient in the running game and play with some smaller lineups that are going to give us some better offensive spacing and allow some of our elite basket attackers and drivers to have driving lanes to get to the rim. While we're doing that, we're going to hold the same standard on the defensive end.
Vogel on adding speed: What we've benefited from in terms of size the last couple of years, we've been hurt by our lack of mobility. Even though we will be smaller, we won't be as long by position as we've been the last couple years, we will be faster. Hopefully we can contain better, hopefully we can cover a lot more ground on the defensive end and be more of a rotating team and that will help us get out on the break.
Vogel on league shift to small lineups: While Golden State won a championship doing that (small ball) this year, this all in my mind, began a couple of years ago with what Miami did. They basically saw two elite offensive players in Wade and James and said, let's give these guys offensive space. Let's open up, let's take the bigs out, let's make Bosh a three-point shooter whether he's at the four or the five, and at times play with five three-point shooters out there and then force teams to try to contain the elite offensive weapons with everybody out at the three-point line. It's very difficult to guard.
So what about anything Vogel described could discourage Paul George? He is LeBron in Vogel's description, the elite basket attacker regardless of which position you put next to his name.
Later in the day, Vogel went further and told Candace Buckner, he's favoring a starting lineup of George Hill, Monta Ellis, C.J. Miles, Paul George and Ian Mahinmi. In the natural order of that player list, PG is at power forward
We know this is going to be a different season for PG, but as he told JMV on Thursday, he's ready to roll, so he should worry more how his role is defined not labeled.
Paul George on feeling good: I'm better than the old me. Just wiser. A lot of guys get two to three months in the summer to workout and train to improve. It felt like I got a whole year to workout and train to improve. So just being out, I feel much more wiser. Just a better player and better person.
PG then went on to say he wasn't thrilled with the idea of playing a new position and figured teams would test his strength and ability to guard bigger players. He didn't back down from the challenge but made it clear he is not a fan of the idea. He expressed similar issues with the proposed plan to Candace Buckner and USA Today's Sam Amick.
"Yeah, I believe (that's his main concern)," George said. "It's just being outmatched strength-wise with guys at the four spot is really the only concern. It's not really the concern for one game. It's the concern just over the course of a season just how my body would take it, especially coming off the injury that I had and a whole year of rehabbing. Just not sure of how it's going to take it. (We'll) start camp, see how camp goes. Again, I'm not too thrilled on it, but it could change the more comfortable I get at the position. But we'll see. But again, I could very much end up loving it, so it's all up in the air. I'm open to the position."
Someone needs to sell the star better. I don't get the disconnect.
PG needs to focus on the scheme not semantics. He said he's been in Indy, excitedly prepping for the start of the season for the past six weeks. That's a lot of time at the Fieldhouse, so you'd think PG and Vogel would share more than small talk with one another.
If PG is truly better than ever, and Vogel gushed over how good he's looked, which would indicate the team won't be protecting PG at power forward, then he shouldn't worry about what position he plays. The Pacers must have PG defending at an elite level again if they want to consider the playoffs this year. That also means he won't be matching up against big guys down low, but instead against the biggest threat on the other team, regardless of position.
Obviously, the Pacers have enough big guys to play big if needed and not put PG at a disadvantage down low. With a versatile collection of players on the roster, the Pacers now have options to attack a variety of matchups.
Seems pretty clear when you view it through the lens of common sense. Unfortunately, things are blurry as the Pacers head to camp next week and today will deliver a flurry of disgruntled Paul George stories before the team even takes the court together.